Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's Cooking?

This was dinner on Sunday.

Carnitas. Doesn't that just SOUND yummy?! So delicioso!

Dish 'em up! I made that pico de gallo too. It was to.die.for. (if I do say so myself)

It was so good in fact that Chris took some to work for lunch the next day....and he very rarely does that!

It makes me so happy when my family LOVES what I made for dinner! I put so much thought and effort into it and it just kills me when the result is ho-hum. So I take my victories to heart.

The last couple of weeks I've been trying to be more conscious of what we already have in the house that needs to be used and writing down menu ideas that I'm only missing a couple ingredients for. I'm so pleased by the way it's working out. I don't have the 5:00 stress of, "Oh no! What am I going to do for dinner!?" like I used to do sometimes. Especially when Chris started coming home every night for dinner...that was a bit of an adjustment.

I finally made a "Regulars List". I've been meaning to do it F-O-R-E-V-E-R. It's basically a list of things you cook on a regular basis broken down by the main ingredient type. Can you believe that off the top of my head I had 45 items? I couldn't either! I think I may turn into a menu planner yet! (or maybe I already have)

One of the many benefits of doing so would be planning my menu based on what's on sale that week. For instance, if Pork Roasts are on sale, DING, Carnitas! OR Cranberry Pork Roast!....if Ground Turkey is on sale, DING, Turkey Chili! OR Shepard's Pie! get the idea. I always allow for a down night too, like Tuna Melts or Omelets...something easy and off the cuff...and of course a leftover night as needed.

Here is what my list of ideas looked like the last 2 weeks:

  • Soyaki Chicken & Veggies
  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Carnitas
  • Panera knock off Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • Homemade Pizza
  • White Roughy & Parmesan vermicelli
  • Lasagna Marinara
  • Andouille Chicken Sausage and veggie stirfry
  • ABC Turkey Meatball Soup
  • Salmon w/ Mango Salsa
  • Spaghetti with ground turkey marinara
  • Shepherd's Pie
I ended up making all but 2 of the things on my list, and now they are on my list for this coming week (or so)

  • ABC Turkey Meatball Soup
  • Salmon w/ Mango Salsa
  • Chicken Sausage Kabobs
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage
  • Chicken Parmigiana
I'm also trying to make fish at least 1x per week. Keeping track of what I'm cooking will help me do that better! It also helps to know that your frozen roast or whole chicken needs to be moved from the freezer to the fridge 2-3 days before you plan to cook it. That's hard to do when you don't plan. I hate to admit that I ended up wasting a lot of meat that way in our last house.

I'm hoping to waste less (not at all), not do things on the fly, and provide balanced meals for my family. These listings are just the main entree...of course I add salads, fruit, steamed veggies, etc. Just thought I'd share, since I know all of you other Moms (Chief Chicks In Charge) are battling the same issues as I am everyday. At least I like to think so.

What's been working for you?


  1. and I want your carnitas recipe!

  2. I've figured out which nights work for more extensive cooking. We have a breakfast night. I mix it up with different things (bkfast burritos, eggs & bacon, meg mc muffins, pancakes, waffles, beans and eggs). I have started making prep-ahead dinners (baked pasta/casserole type stuff) on Monday because I know I'll be at class that night. Thursday is a chill day at my house, so I usually make something really yummy that takes more time that night. It's a good night to try out new recipes.
    We don't eat out a ton, but once every 2 or 3 weeks, I put the kids to bed super early, call in take out, and have Aaron pick it up on his way home. Kids are sleeping by the time he gets in and we eat and watch tv shows on hulu or a redbox. It doesn't seem to affect my kids to be in bed an hour early since it's not very often, and it's nice to have a little date, and a break from cooking and the clean up, without paying for a sitter or being tempted to spend more $ on appetizers and soda. It's usually just pizza and salad. Yum.
    I am hungry now.
    I've never had corned beef and cabbage.
    I plan on showing up at Kasey's next wed for dinner (she doesn't know it yet)....think she'll turn me away if I have baguettes in my arms?

  3. Um . . . YUM!

    So where are the recipes! You need to start a recipe blog to share in more detail.

    You have inspired me to get back to planning meals better. I've been living in the middle of a kitchen remodel and we've been using nothing but a crock pot for a couple of weeks. I love the crock pot - it's a total lifesaver - but I'm ready to saute and broil and bake again.

    Something that works for me is to keep past menus. I write down everything we eat for a month. Then when the next month comes around I have a whole month of menus ready to repeat, draw inspiration from, and edit out the things that didn't go over so well.

    Glad to see your family is doing well in beautiful NC.

  4. Maren, I'm so happy to hear from you! You're not the first to suggest the recipe blog. I just don't know if I can keep up with 2 blogs. Plus, then what would I post here? LOL If there is any recipe you want specifically, let me know and I'd be happy to email it to you. I'm good at sharing. :)

  5. Meg - no way would KC ever turn you away! Baguettes or not, but I think they'd definitely help your cause. :) You better make sure she's using my Dad's mustard and brown sugar glaze though! It's not worth eating any other way!!

  6. wow I'm hungry. You guys eat good.

  7. It all looks SO good Nat. And yes... I've gotten used to looking around, seeing what I have and coming up w/ meals that way. It is SO much cheaper than running to the store all the time for ingredients that you don't have. I too, get SO excited when Josh just raves about the dish. And now Noah is starting to eat "big people" food too. Makes me happy. Cooking just makes me happy !!

  8. hOly yummy good food! I want to be like you when I grow up. What does someone have to do to get some of those recipes? They all look yummy.

  9. whoa lady, that looks so good right now...i'm starving!!! i need some of your recipes!! lol... i'm fresh out of ideas over here!

  10. I've started doing double batches of some recipes (like Casseroles, etc.) and freezing half to just pop in the oven on a night when I don't have time to cook. It's so much cheaper than even getting the frozen meals at the grocery store and really isn't any extra work.